Braves Dispatch: Summoning luck with baseball superstitions

Atlanta Braves catcher Chadwick Tromp greets with relief pitcher A.J. Minter after they worked out in the bullpen during spring training workouts at CoolToday Park, Monday, Feb. 19, 2024, in North Port, Florida. (Hyosub Shin /



Atlanta Braves catcher Chadwick Tromp greets with relief pitcher A.J. Minter after they worked out in the bullpen during spring training workouts at CoolToday Park, Monday, Feb. 19, 2024, in North Port, Florida. (Hyosub Shin /

Hey there,

I was curious about something recently: Do the Braves have any fun superstitions? Baseball is a daily game, and everyone is always trying to summon luck to their side.

So, I asked a few Braves.

“I don’t have anything too set,” Matt Olson said. “If something’s working, I’ll stick with it, you know? But nothing I gotta do every day.”

An example of something Olson might do: “Do I tap my bat weight off on the dirt or the circle?”

It can be something as little as that. If it’s working, he’ll continue doing it.

“And if it’s not,” Olson said, “(then) doing something different.”

Each day at Truist Park, A.J. Minter brings a sudoku puzzle down to the bullpen in the first inning. He’ll do it in the room behind the bullpen – which isn’t visible to the crowd. He began doing sudoku puzzles in 2019 or 2020. On the road, he’ll complete it in the clubhouse unless he knows the visitors’ bullpen has an inside area.

Then there’s this: If he’s available to pitch that day, Minter will pound a Red Bull and then crush it – literally. As I wrote in a story about the Braves’ relievers drinking Red Bull, Minter and Jesse Chavez have a contest.

Who can stomp his empty Red Bull can into a perfect circle? In the story, I wrote about how Minter and Chavez disagree about who’s better at it, but how the other relievers picked Chavez.

But Red Bull is a firm part of their routine.

“If I’m down that day, then I won’t’ drink a Red Bull, I’ll try not to,” Minter said. “But, only during the season. I won’t crave them in the offseason. Gotta go sugar-free Red Bull. I just crave it when I’m doing my sudoku puzzle.”

Minter said Austin Riley and Reynaldo López will also do sudoku puzzles.

“Everyone else is a crossword puzzle (guy),” Minter said.

(Funny enough, in 2022, I wrote about how so many Braves players love doing crossword puzzles before games.)

Lefty reliever Dylan Lee doesn’t currently have any superstitions, but in junior college, he used to do the same things on the same days. He had it all mapped out.

“Not only (my) routine,” Lee said. “Where I ate, what I ate, snacks, everything. I had my whole week planned out. But I ended up going 13-0, so I was like, let’s keep that routine.”

He would go to the same sandwich place on this day. Then another restaurant on another day. Then Jamba Juice one day. And on and on.

Why did he stop?

“Because I wasn’t a starter anymore and I went to a different college, and I was like, ‘I can’t,’” he said. “It was mentally draining. It’s a lot.”

His junior college team was winning. He was doing well.

“And then we went into the playoffs and I didn’t do it, and we lost,” Lee said. “Because I wasn’t able to.”

His team had to drive somewhere for that game. He physically couldn’t hit all his spots around his own school.

That season, Lee started 13-0 and finished 13-1 as a starter. Those 13 wins were a school record for College of the Sequoias in Visalia, California.

Any superstitions for Ronald Acuña Jr.?

“No. Not at all,” Acuña said through interpreter Franco García. “I go out and play normal. I’ve got nothing like that at all.”


Why would you if you have Acuña’s talent?

Houston Astros' Yuli Gurriel reacts hits a two-run scoring double during the first inning of Game 1 of the baseball World Series against the Washington Nationals Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Credit: David J. Phillip/AP

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Credit: David J. Phillip/AP

Extra Innings

*This week allowed us to look back at the 2021 Braves’ World Series run as they returned to Houston for the first time since hoisting the trophy there after Game 6.

That Braves team symbolized the special part about the sport: When a group has that postseason magic, anything can happen.

The 2021 Braves weren’t as talented as the 2022 or 2023 Braves. Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos fortified the roster in the middle of the 2021 season, but the Braves are deeper and more talented now.

But that 2021 team was special.

“Just gotta get in the dance,” Minter said. “Anyone can win in baseball.”

When Minter pitched at Texas A&M, the head coach at the time, Rob Childress, always taught his players a lesson about that.

“It’s not the best team that wins, it’s the team that plays the best today,” Childress would say.

That’s why baseball is so fun. It’s unpredictable.

“In football, in other sports, usually the better team kind of comes out on top a little more,” Minter said. “But in baseball, there’s something – a college team could come out and beat us on any given day. That’s what makes baseball so special. There’s always an underdog, and we were the underdog. We weren’t expected to win.”

The 2021 Braves – who didn’t reach .500 until early August – got hot at the right time. They carried it all the way through the postseason.

They’re one of the better stories the game has ever seen.

*I’m always interested in the veterans signed to minor-league deals during the season itself. The Braves have an interesting one: Yuli Gurriel, the former batting champ. He won two World Series with Houston.

And now, after playing for the Marlins in 2023, the Braves have signed him to a minor-league deal. Gurriel was assigned to Triple-A Gwinnett.

Barring injury, there’s probably not a spot for Gurriel on the Braves’ roster – unless they wanted him to take the Charlie Culberson/Luke Williams/Forrest Wall role of last man on the roster. He would be a nice bench bat. But even if that 26th man never plays, you’d probably still want someone with the versatility of the guys who have filled that role.

Gurriel is a first baseman who played third base earlier in his career. The Braves are set there, and at designated hitter.

Still, it’ll be fun to monitor Gurriel.

*Chadwick Tromp has received praise from a few notable names this season: Brian Snitker, Chris Sale, Reynaldo López.

Tromp is thankful to be around the Braves’ catching group. Coaches Sal Fasano and Eddie Pérez – both former big-league backstops – lead the work. Sean Murphy and Travis d’Arnaud have also helped Tromp.

In spring training, he spent time around all of them. And now, he’s part of the pregame planning meetings.

“I would say the most improvement I’ve made was my mind,” Tromp said. “I just think being around those guys helped me elevate my game, my game-calling to the next level. I’m very happy and very proud to be here. Those guys do a really good job with me every day, and I appreciate every single one of those guys. I think that, for me, was the game-changer. I’m smart – and I like to play chess – but these guys are (helping) me take my game to the next level.”

And by the way, is Tromp the best chess player on the team?

“Uh, yeah,” he said. “You can ask around.”

Recently, Tromp was seen playing chess against Max Fried in the clubhouse.

“He’s even better,” Tromp said. “You know he doesn’t like losing. It’s gonna be a long season. I can’t wait, though.”